Biden administration causes confusion over reopening schools, flip-flops on whether to vaccinate teachers

(Planet-Today) The White House has sowed confusion regarding the process for reopening schools from their Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-imposed lockdowns on Wednesday, Feb. 17, when it said teachers do not need to be vaccinated for in-person classes to return. The administration of President Joe Biden immediately turned back on this statement by calling the issue a “priority.”

(Article by Arsenio Toledo republished from

Neither Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris was able to give a direct response during their latest media appearances when they were asked about teacher vaccinations.

“It’s about needing to be able to socially distance, smaller classes, more protection and I think the teachers and the folks who work in the school, the cafeteria workers and others should be on the list of preferred to get a vaccination,” said Biden during a town hall on Tuesday night.

“Teachers should be a priority,” said Harris during an interview on NBC on Wednesday morning. She came under fire when Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie attempted to get her to give a direct answer.

“Can you reassure teachers listening right now that it is safe to go back to school, even if they are not vaccinated, if these public health measures like distancing and masks are being implemented?” asked Guthrie.

“Teachers should be a priority along with other frontline workers and we’re going to make them a priority,” answered Harris, which is apparently a jab at the many states that are putting teachers on a lower tier of a priority than many other frontline workers like healthcare employees, firefighters and law enforcement officials.

“But if they’re not vaccinated, is it safe for them?” countered Guthrie, who attempted to push the question. Harris continued to deflect by talking about the $1.9 trillion relief package being pushed by the Democratic Party, which the vice president claims would help reopen schools.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later tried to clarify the administration’s position by saying that the final decision is “up to the states.”

“Neither the president nor the vice president believes it is a requirement,” said Psaki during a press briefing. “At the same time, the president and vice president also believe that teachers should be prioritized. That’s up to states to determine.”

“[Biden’s] goal that he set is to have the majority of schools – so, more than 50 percent – open by day 100 of his presidency,” said Psaki during a different press conference. “And that means some teaching in classrooms. So, at least one day a week. Hopefully, it’s more.”

The topic of school reopening has become a subject of national debate as many schools all over the country continue to hold classes online.

The administration, along with many school districts all over the country, is looking to resume in-person classes. But they are being opposed by teachers’ unions who have expressed supposed concerns regarding the safety of educators. These teachers are demanding that they be vaccinated before returning to the classroom.

The demand of unions is not supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published its guidelines for school reopenings last week. The CDC’s recommendations include universal and mandatory mask usage and social distancing. The agency has also called for teachers and other school staff to be given “priority” when it comes to vaccinations, but it has stopped short of making it a requirement.

Even chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci believes that vaccinating every teacher in the country is “non-workable.”

“I think if you are going to say that every single teacher needs to be vaccinated before you get back to school, I believe quite frankly … that that’s a non-workable situation,” said Fauci during an interview with CBS News on Wednesday.

“I think teachers should absolutely be priority among those who we consider essential personnel,” he continued, “and you should try and get as many teachers as you possibly can vaccinated as quickly as you possibly can.”

Republicans seizing on confusion regarding Biden’s unclear school reopening program

The Republican Party has used the confusion to criticize Democrats for several weeks now. The GOP has pointed to data suggesting that many schools are actually safe to open. Republicans have also accused the Democrats of siding with teachers’ unions over students and ignoring the needs of American families as well as scientific data.

“In places across America where public education depends on the whims of a powerful public sector union, the best interests of children have often come dead last,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a speech on the floor of the Senate earlier this month. “As the months have rolled by and the data have poured in, it’s becoming clear that schools can open safely.”

“An administration that puts facts and science first would be conducting a full-court press to open schools,” added McConnell.

Republican strategist Rory Cooper said this issue is particularly urgent and has an immediate impact, especially for the “collar counties around major urban areas,” who the GOP considers to be the swing voters they want to court for votes.

According to Cooper, the extended school lockdowns are causing “mental health issues, academic issues, physical and social issues” in children and teenagers.

“And the priority seems to be on the adults who worked in the school system,” said Cooper, “rather than the children who are supposed to benefit from it.”

Republican candidates are already using this issue in their campaigns. The former mayor of San Diego Kevin Faulconer is running to receive the nomination of the Republican Party for the 2022 California gubernatorial election.

On Wednesday, he campaigned outside of a closed high school in San Francisco and criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “failed leadership” on reopening schools.

“This is about not rolling up your sleeves and saying that this is important,” said Faulconer. “How on earth are private schools open where teachers are teaching safely, kids are safely learning – and it’s not happening in public schools? It’s unacceptable.”

Faulconer further criticized Newsom for not using the governorship as a bully pulpit to pressure school districts to reopen and teachers’ unions to concede.

“The governor involves himself in so many things – like businesses opening and closing – but yet he’s not involving himself in the opening of our public schools,” added Faulconer.

Learn more about the Biden administration’s attempts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic by reading the latest articles at

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